FANDOM


Chapter 2: Cô gái bất thường

Học viện Raira ở Ikebukuro sau giờ học

Có thứ gì mà cô không có?

Sonohara Anri thầm nghĩ khi đang sải bước trên ánh hoàng hôn.

Thời gian trôi qua thật nhanh, thấm thoát đã 1 năm kể từ khi cô vào học tại học viện Raira.

Trở thành lớp trưởng lớp A cùng với bạn nam Ryuugamine Mikado, cũng như bạn với Kida Masaomi lớp bên cạnh.

Đây là lần đầu tiên cô cảm thấy gần gũi với con trai, mặc dù cô vẫn cảm thấy xa cách với họ. Nhưng dù vậy, những chuỗi ngày của cô đã trở nên yên bình.

Nhưng cô vẫn không thể tìm thấy một ‘nơi cô thuộc về’ ở trong trường học.

Ở trường trung học, cô biết chính xác mình thuộc về đâu.

—Trong vai trò là tay sai cho Harima Mika.

Cô ấy khá khác với người bình thường nhưng cô ấy là một người thông minh, một cô gái xinh đẹp, và là bạn thuở nhỏ của cô.

Lôi kéo Anri như thế và làm cho cô phục vụ mình--một tình bạn như thế, giống mối quan hệ giữa chủ và tớ, rất phổ biến.

Tuy nhiên, Anri lại không có gì tức giận hay phẫn nộ với cuộc sống như thế này, thực tế thì cô còn cảm thấy thoải mái nữa.

Chẳng sao cả khi ở trong tình trạng như thế, bởi vì thực tế đã chỉ ra rằng còn có người cần đến cô. Cũng như khi suy nghĩ về điều đó, cô sẽ không bao giờ cảm thấy vô nghĩa trên cõi đời này.

Dường như Anri đang hồi tưởng lại, mọi thứ cô nghĩ cứ vụt qua trước mắt cô.

Nhưng người bên cạnh cô không phải là Anri. Mà đó là chàng trai cô bắt đầu hẹn hò khi nhập học—Yagiri Seigi. Cả hai người họ nhìn giống như rất thân thiết với nhau—không, không phải ‘nhìn như thế’. Họ gần như hoàn toàn bám lấy nhau. Không những Mika đang nhấn mạnh mối quan hệ Seiji với người khác, mà cô còn bổ sung thêm sự ấn tượng cho người khác về mối quan hệ này.

Mika dường như đã nhận ra Anri đang nhìn cô, cô mỉm cười và vẩy tay chào cô ấy.

“Ah, Anri-chan, gặp cậu ngày mai~”

“Oh…OK…”

Một câu đùa cợt vô nghĩa.

Với Mika, cô đã trở thành một thực thể tồn tại của cấp độ đó.

Cô ấy không cần ai phục vụ mình như một lá chắn nữa.

Mika đã có một chỗ trống trong trái tim của chàng trai Yagiri Seiji. Như vậy, chẳng còn có lý do gì để Anri và cô ấy tiếp tục phụ thuộc vào nhau như thế nữa.

Đó là bởi vì—thậm chí nếu không có một lá chắn làm cô ấy nổi bật thì Seiji vẫn sẽ yêu cô ấy sâu sắc.

Mặc dù Anri là một người xa lạ với định nghĩa tình yêu nhưng cô vẫn có thể hiểu được rằng hai người họ đang yêu nồng nàn. Cho dù nó có cảm giác rằng cả hai đang tự lừa dối bản thân để duy trì bầu không khí này xung quanh họ nhưng cô bỏ qua nó vì cho rằng đó là do ghen tị và không nghĩ về điều đó nữa.

Anri bây giờ đã được sống mà ‘không cần xem xét kỹ’.

Cuộc sống bình yên của cô có được là nhờ giữ khoảng cách an toàn với những người bạn của mình.

Cô bằng lòng với một cuộc sống như thế nhưng cô cũng cảm thấy rằng mình không thể nào sống như thế này mãi mãi.

Dù sao đi nữa, 2 ý nghĩ này chưa từng đụng chạm nhau trước đây.

Anri cảm thấy nếu như để những ý nghĩ này xung đột lẫn nhau thì cuộc sống hằng ngày mà cô đã sống tới giờ sẽ hoàn toàn tan vỡ. Mika, Seiji, Mikado và Masaomi dường như cũng được sống một cuộc sống đầy đủ. Dù đã có một số chuyện đã xảy ra nhưng ít nhất họ vẫn có thể xác định được mình. Anri cũng đã cảm nhận được rằng tất cả bọn họ đã cho thấy mình muốn đạt được nhiều mục tiêu hơn trong cuộc sống.

—Họ có gì mà tôi không có?

Tiết cuối bắt đầu sớm hơn, và hầu như chả có ai ở lại để lo việc của hội đồng học sinh cả.

Bước đi trên hành lang trống rỗng, Anri đột nhiên cảm thấy mất phương hướng và bắt đầu cảm thấy bối rối.

Mắc kẹt trong những suy nghĩ về sự tồn tại của mình.

Những suy nghĩ đó bắt đầu xuất hiện khi cô bắt đầu bước qua tuổi dậy thì trì trệ vì Mika. Cho tới hôm nay họ đã là—

—Tôi không thể nghĩ được bất cứ điều gì.

Đó có thể nào đó là một dạng ảo giác lo lắng đã làm cho cô nghĩ rằng cô thật sự hài lòng với tình huống hiện giờ? Nhưng không có cách nào cho cô biết điều đó.

—Tôi thậm chí còn không biết mình nên làm gì…

“Hm? Sonohara, em vẫn ở đây sao?”

Anri đang bàng hoàng bước đi nhưng lại nao núng khi có người đột nhiên gọi cô từ phía sau.

“Eh…”

“Tại sao em lại ngạc nhiên thế?”

Anri quay người lại và thấy một giáo viên khá ưa nhìn trong bộ đồ vest và cà vạt đang đứng trước cô. Cô chỉ lờ mờ nhớ đó là giáo viên của năm nhất lớp 1-C, nhưng tên của hắn thì cô không tài nào nhớ nổi.

Nhưng đó không phải là vì cô không có ấn tượng gì.

“Sao thế? Hm, nếu em cảm thấy không khỏe, tại sao em không đi đến phòng y tế?”

Một ánh nhìn ghê tởm bao quanh cơ thể Anri. Nó thật ghê tởm đến nỗi một khi bị nó bao trùm thì khó có thể nào để quên được. Có lẽ chính vì điều này mà cô không tài nào nhớ tên hắn ta.

“K-không, em ổn.”

“Thật vậy sao…?”

Lúc đầu cô nghĩ đó chẳng qua là cô lại hoang tưởng.

“Hay có lẽ, tôi nên đưa em về nhà.”

“…Ahahahaha.”

“Tôi chỉ đùa thôi…haha.”

Mặc dù hắn đang cười nhưng Anri biết rằng các giáo viên không bao giờ đùa và hắn có lẽ cũng khá nghiêm túc về việc đó.

Sau đó, cô dần hiểu rõ ý nghĩa đằng sau ánh mắt đó.

Hắn đã từng được giao du với một nhóm học sinh nữ, và thậm chí ngay sau khi bọn họ đã tốt nghiệp, hắn vẫn bắt họ tiếp tục với hắn bằng việc đe dọa họ.

Hắn chính là tên đã quấy rối họ, và đương nhiên hắn đã đe dọa họ giữ im lặng.

Hắn đã đe dọa về điểm của họ để làm cho họ đi theo hắn.

Giáo viên dạng này luôn có những tin đồn thất thiệt xung quanh. Và biểu hiện như thế cũng không giống như một giáo viên nghiêm túc mà Anri nhớ.

Khi Anri lần đầu bước vào trường, tin đồn về tên giáo viên này đã lan truyền nhanh như cháy rừng. Có người còn nói rằng một vài người phải chịu những hành vi dâm ô của hắn. Tất cả những học sinh nữ đều cảnh giác với tên này và cố gắng tránh xa hắn.

Nhưng Anri chưa bao giờ gặp bất cứ nạn nhân nào, cô đối xử đặc biệt đối với các giáo viên. Cô cảm thấy rằng điều này có lẽ là phổ biến ở mỗi trường khi người nào đó muốn phỉ báng giáo viên, để đẩy tất cả những phiền muộn cho một người nào đó, như thể họ là một loại ‘vật hiến tế’.

Vì thế khi lo việc của hội đồng học sinh, Anri sẽ không bao giờ tránh xa hắn hay cố gắng để xoa dịu hắn. Cô đối xử với hắn như những giáo viên khác, nhưng—

Khi học kỳ 2 kết thúc, những cô gái xung quanh cô bắt đầu cảnh báo cô, mặc dù đó không phải việc của họ.

Nè, Sonohara-san, tớ nghĩ cậu đã bị chọn làm mục tiêu rồi.

Cẩn thận~ Hắn ta có thể hiểu nhầm bởi vì Anri quá tốt với hắn.

—Tôi không đối xử đặc biệt với hắn ta…

Đó là lý do tại sao~ nếu cậu không bỏ qua hắn, với hắn thì có lẽ sẽ giống như “Cô ấy thật tốt đối với tôi” Nhìn xem, chẳng phải các cô gái khác đang lờ hắn sao? Vì vậy nếu Anri nói chuyện bình thường với hắn ta thì chắc chắn hắn sẽ nghĩ như vậy!

Đúng là có vấn đề với cách hắn ta nhìn Anri.

Mặc dù nghĩ như vậy, Anri cảm thấy rằng mọi người đã nhầm lẫn—

Cho đến một ngày, thậm chí đến cả Mika~ người mà cô hầu như không được tiếp xúc đã đến và cảnh báo cô.

Anri, cậu phải cẩn thận~ Bởi vì cách hắn nhìn cậu….giống như là ham muốn hơn là tình yêu.

Chỉ khi cô ấy nói thì Anri mới nhận ra mức độ nghiêm trọng của tình hình.

Với Anri thì lời nói của Mika còn có tác động mạnh hơn một trăm người quen khác. Và thậm chí nếu khoảng cách giữa họ có tăng lên đi chăng nữa thì sự phụ thuộc của cô dành cho cô ta vẫn không thay đổi.

Tôi chỉ muốn sống cuộc sống bình yên…

Nghĩ rằng Anri bắt đầu lảng tránh hắn như những cô gái khác, nhưng—

“Đúng thế đó, Sonohara , gần đây, cậu đang được những cô gái khác cảnh báo phải không  ?”

“Không sao, mình ổn.”

“Có ổn không…? Thật sao? Vậy còn những vấn đề trước đó không còn bị moi móc lên nữa chứ?”

“…Ừ, mình ổn.”

Anri bắt đầu nghĩ về sự việc xảy ra một tháng trước.

Thật không may, tránh vỏ dưa gặp vỏ dừa, khi Anri quyết định tránh xa giáo viên ấy, cô bắt đầu bị hất hủi bởi một vài cô gái chưa bao giờ có ý tốt với mình. Họ đã quen biết nhau kể từ khi học trung học, và họ cực kỳ ghét Anri~ người đã từng làm tay sai của Mika lúc bấy giờ.

Họ đã đến gây sự với cô khi lần đầu cô nhập học, nhưng sau đó Mikado đã đi ngang qua cùng với người đàn ông lạ mặt mặc đồ đen đã chăm sóc họ, sau đó họ đã ngừng quấy phá Anri.

Thời gian sau, cô chạy khỏi họ sau giờ học, sau khi cô đã làm xong hết công việc của hội học sinh. Cô đã bị bao quanh bởi họ như trước—và tên giáo viên kia đã lờ đi.

Lúc đó hắn ta đã lờ đi, hắn đã có thể giải quyết vấn đề này thông suốt. Nhưng từ cách hắn nhìn bây giờ, hắn cảm thấy Anri mắc nợ mình.

Có thể nào hắn đã quan sát ngay từ đầu, chờ đợi thời cơ trước khi nhảy ra giúp đỡ? Hay có lẽ hắn đã giật dây để làm cho tôi đụng phải những cô gái kia?

Mặc dù Anri nghĩ đó chỉ là tưởng tượng nhưng cô không thể nào gạt bỏ hoàn toàn những ý nghĩ đó. Bởi vì có thể từ đó, tên giáo viên đó sẽ tìm cớ để nói về việc này.

“Đúng thế đó….Sonahara, nếu em có vấn đề gì, hay bất cứ gì cũng được, em có thể luôn luôn nói với tôi về chúng. Nếu em làm thế, tôi sẽ giúp em như lần tôi đã làm ‘lần cuối’.”

—Đã được 1 tháng rồi…

Đó là những gì cô đã nghĩ nhưng cô không thể nào nói ta được.

“Ah…”

“Mặc khác, tôi là một giáo viên, vì vậy tôi cần một học sinh nào đó dựa dẫm mình. Đó là lý do em phải tin tưởng tôi trước.”

—Phải có cách khác chứ…

Cô nuốt nước bọt xuống. Cô tin rằng đây là cách tốt nhất nếu cô không gây sự chú ý với hắn ta bởi vì sau đó có lẽ hắn sẽ mất hứng sau đó. Cô không muốn hắn xuất hiện ở đây bởi vì cô không muốn dính dáng tới hắn như thế này.

“Tôi đã nhìn thấy tất cả các loại học sinh trước đây, và đó là lý do tôi lo lắng về Sonahara….phải không…?”

Tên giáo viên—Nasujima Takashi đặt tay lên vai Sonohara và nhìn khuôn mặt cô, cho rằng nó như 1 cử chỉ lịch thiệp.

Nhưng người duy nhất nghĩ đó là một ‘cử chỉ lịch thiệp’, lại là chính hắn—Nasujima.

“Em luôn luôn tỏ ra mệt mỏi, vì vậy như một giáo viên tôi sẽ lo lắng. Hình mẫu giáo viên của em, Kitagoma-sensei không thật sự là một người tốt, Satou-sensei của lớp B thì không bao giờ để ý đến vấn đề của học sinh, và còn lớp D thì….—”

—?

Ngay lúc đó Anri đã cảm thấy có gì đó không bình thường.

Anri nhận thấy hắn đang nói nhanh hơn, và đồng thời cô cũng cảm thấy ấm áp bắt đầu lan truyền từ sau lưng.

Nasujima đã đem những giáo viên khác để chứng minh mình đáng tin đến mức nào. Nhưng nhìn thế nào thì hắn như thể đang gấp rút và khẩn cấp hiện rõ trong mắt hắn.

Hoàn toàn không có ai ở xung quanh. Và lẽ thế Nasujima đang ngày càng trở nên táo bạo hơn.

—hay có lẽ…

Có khi giống như Anri nghĩ về những khả năng khác—

“Nasujima-sensei, thầy đang quấy rối tình dục bạn ấy sao?”

Một giọng nói trêu trọc băng qua hành lan và Nasujima đột nhiên cứng đơ người.

“Ah…”

Bàn tay đang giữ vai cô gái càng ngày càng mạnh, nhưng Anri không thể thốt ra lời được.

“Uwahh, you even made our cute bespectacled class rep scream, so this is the real ‘sexual harassment’? But if I say ‘sexual’ and then ‘harassment’, some people won’t understand right? Maybe I should say ‘sexy khorosho’ instead? Isn’t that like combining English and Russian so their countries can fight together to end the Cold War?”

“Ki-Kida! Stop fooling around!”

Nasujima hurriedly removed his hand from Anri’s body and turned around to scold him.

Anri too, turned around, and standing there was one of her very few friends—class 1-B’s Kida Masaomi. He had shown himself in the hallway.

It was supposed to be empty.

However at this moment, Masaomi was very definitely there in the hallway.

But only the top half of his body.

His feet were still in the classroom, but he’d bent his body diagonally so that the other half of his body stuck into the hallway.

This seemed like what something a elementary school would do and although it eased the tension, the atmosphere that had become even more delicate than and began to permeate the hallway. Based on what Masaomi had seen, and when he had started watching –it could change everything.

There didn’t seem to be anyone else watching in the hallway, but it was possible that they were hiding in the classroom and assessing the situation. But either way, the truth remained that Masaomi had seen Nasujima place a hand on Anri’s shoulder.

But if it was just that, there was still room for justification. He could just say it was purely body language. That was what Nasujima concluded, but before he could open his mouth—Masaomi smiled with his eyes closed:

“Oya oya oya oya oya oya. That’s not right Nasujima-sensei~ It’s fine if you just talk like that about class A’s Kitsu-chi, but you even dragged in our ‘master’ Satou-chi !”

“…!”

Now that he was sure Masaomi had heard everything, Nasujima was scared speechless.

As if he’d decided that it was best for him to discontinue with the conversation, he turned towards Anri and smiled pretentiously.

“I was kidding…I was just kidding, Sonohara. Don’t misunderstand and start spreading strange rumours, al-alright?”

In comparison to his mouth that was set in a fake smile, his eyes seemed to be caught in an even more fervent anxiety than before. But as Anri fretted about how to answer, Masaomi who was still standing in that position butted in:

“Hahaha, sensei! Does Anri really look like such a loose woman to you?”

“…Yo-you’re right.”

“But I'll be the one spreading weird rumours, so rest assured!”

“Wha…”

Although it was obviously a joke, to Nasujima, something like that could hardly be considered one. The teacher could only warn him with half-hearted austerity:

“Kida! If you keep doing these pointless things—”

“Maybe I should just work hard then? Kukuku, working hard’s very important. That’s right, of course! Those who yell “We’ll never need to use physics or math in the future!” are definitely those from our generation! If we look at it from your point of view, it’s because we will indeed have to use physics and math in the future that we have to make use of the time now before we decide our futures to learn all kinds of stuff…right? But sensei, I’ve already sworn before a goddess of some religion that I’m going to be a gigolo. That’s why I think, math and physics already have nothing to do with me. Frankly speaking, as long as I know Japanese and English, I’ll be able to become a ‘world gigolo’ right?”

Nasujima had absolutely no bearing on what he was on about, and could only tell Masaomi who was firing his mouth off like a machine gun what he really thought.

“You…no…your Japanese grades must be really bad then?”

“Kukuku…it’s a shame, but I’ve gotten a perfect 10 for Japanese. Sensei~ no matter how good I am at essays and argumentatives, it won’t rub off on everyday speech! Do you understand now? Sensei~”

“Nonsense! Is that how you address a teacher?”

Nasujima tried to change the subject, but Masaomi languorously thrust out his right hand.

And grasped in that hand was a white mobile phone. Masaomi suddenly lowered his voice and said:

“And, I’ve been ‘recording’ everything from just now.”

“You…”

“Now then.”

His eyes which were already resembling crawling worms narrowed even more, and Masaomi strolled into the hallway.

“In order to learn the ways of the gigolo—I want sensei to teach me, how do I inconspicuously make a move?”

“Kukuku, I never thought getting my hands on some of the questions in the finals would be so easy.”

As he walked along the path in front of the school gates, Masaomi flashed his usual light-hearted grin.

After that, Masaomi had gone into the classroom and started a rather dubious ‘negotiation’, and it seemed to have ended up with him finding out the questions that would appear in the finals that Nasujima had been in charge of setting.

Anri gave Masaomi a sideways glance, feeling rather perplexed. Should she be thanking Masaomi for helping her out just as things were getting sticky? Or should she be chiding him for blackmailing a teacher like that?

Had it been someone else, Anri probably wouldn’t have said anything to them. She didn’t want someone resenting unnecessarily just because she’d taken it into her head to tell them off.

But Masaomi was one of her few friends, and was someone she could admonish for doing something wrong. Or more accurately, it was because the wish for him not to do such unbecoming things existed in her heart.

But she was still hesitating as to whether to say anything. Because it was much more likely that Masaomi had done something like that in order to help Anri rather than to find an opening to blackmail the teacher. Once she thought of that, she didn’t know what to say anymore.

Perhaps it was because Masaomi had sensed something from Anri’s expression, but he gave a child-like smile and said:

“I helped Anri who was troubled and even managed to get my hands on the questions in the finals. It’s like killing two birds with one stone!”

“Eh?”

“You’re worrying about whether you should be thanking me or scolding me right? I’m fine with both~ Either way it cancels everything out between us. We’re ‘even’ now, so there’s nothing more to say. How’s that?”

Anri was momentarily rendered speechless as she heard Masaomi’s totally incomprehensible rationale.

Taking that reaction as an affirmation, he went on in a completely ordinary tone:

“We don’t need words, so let’s just start by holding hands.”

“Can I be angry?”

“Nope. But remember, I’m at that age where I want to indiscrimately do everything from holding hands, kissing and stuff even more than intimate than that.”

When they’d met for the first time, Masaomi had already confessed to Anri, and told her that he liked her.

But because he’d said that same thing to more than half of the girls, virtually no one had taken him seriously. Even if they had, they probably would’ve felt rather indignant about it.

“I know Kida-kun’s said that indiscriminately to everyone…but who do you really like?”

“Me? I like everyone who I confessed to! From the bottom of my heart! Of course I really, really like Anri too. I’m serious OK?”

“…Um, I wonder what I should say…”

Although Anri felt a little exasperated at the fact that Masaomi didn’t seem to have any principles, a peaceful expression surfaced on her face.

Masaomi hadn’t noticed that, and began to use the other boy who was always by Anri’s side as a discussion topic.

“That Mikado’s really an idiot isn’t he~ Has he confessed to Anri yet?”

“Eh…”

“Nah, but seriously, Mikado should probably have realized that he’s really in love with Anri right?”

Masaomi said such delicate things without a hint of reservedness. Not only did he have absolutely no principles where love concerned, he was even brashly intruding in the areas of other people’s love.

“Ryuugamine-kun and I…are just really good friends…”

“Fufufu, my buddy’s seems to really have fallen for Anri, so I’ll just monitor things for now. That’s the way I live. I still have to meet all the most beautiful girls in the world, so I can’t let Anri steal my heart just yet.”

Masaomi had completely ignored what Anri and had shown some really narcissistic behavior. Anri then understood that since it had become like this, anything she said would be useless, so she merely listened without taking anything to heart.

“Oh…hold on…aren’t I really cool now? More like damn cool right~? Fallen for me yet? You’ve fallen for me right? Head over heels already? You can’t possibly fall for me any more right? You fallen for me so much like chiyashi chiyashi chiya chiya chiya~?”

He’d formed strange sentences, and struck her with a vortex of words, leaving Anri feeling troubled at his intentions.

But Anri didn’t take him seriously, so she didn’t really take note.

“Which reminds me, Kida-kun…”

“Yes? I’ll answer anything. Fufufu, from what I see, Anri’s vital statistics are 84-55-83…and I think if you wear the right clothes, you’ll look even more shapely. Or maybe, you want to hear about my heroic legends during middle school? Did you know I easily had around a hundred subordinates back then…”

Anri didn’t understand Masaomi’s story, and instead thrust out the query she’d had earlier.

“What did you mean when you said you wanted to be a gigolo?”

“Huh?”

“What does a gigolo do?”

She hadn’t meant to tease him in any way, and that question had been one from the position of a pure, innocent girl who had a limited understanding of an adult’s world.

As innocent eyes stared at him from behind thick glasses, Masaomi was momentarily rendered speechless.

Anri looked away from the speechless Masaomi, and raised her head to look at the amber sky, muttering to herself:

“I’m really envious of Kida-kun…you already have a definite goal for your future and in your life.”

“No, that…it’s…”

“As for me—I don’t even know what I’m going to do now, let alone the future…”

She stared ahead, her vision tinged with melancholy, and took note of the figure standing before the school gate.

The other person seemed to notice her as well. A merry smile appeared on the youth’s face, and her waved to them in greeting.

Masaomi raised his hand a little, and then lowered his voice so only Anri could hear:

“He’s~here, enter the coward who doesn’t who have the guts to confess.”

A trace of crimson rose on Anri’s face, and she didn’t respond to what Masaomi had said.

She could only react like this now anyway. ♂♀

Stars had already begun flickering in the sky, and in comparison to the street lights, the lights adorning the sky were very much weaker.

Under a winter night sky like this, Anri walked the streets of Ikebukuro alone.

After meeting up with Mikado on the way home from school, she’d bought some things from Parco, said goodbye to them and finally made her way home by herself.

As she walked on the path towards Sunshine City, Anri absent-mindedly looked around.

Appearing before her eyes, was the Ikebukuro that was seemingly the same as always, with every single person looking as if they were lost in their own thoughts as they stepped across the streets, gradually moving closer and the gradually moving away.

The reason things seemed only ‘almost’ the same, was because of that unsettling feeling.

Yellow.

Among the youths that walked on the streets, there were many of them who yellow scarves tied to them.

—Why?

Although Anri found this to be a little strange, she didn’t give it too much thought and walked straight on the path home.

Leaving the street behind her, walking into the little alley which led to her cheap, rented apartment.

It was less than a kilometre away from the bustling street, yet it seemed to have become a different world altogether. There was no one, and the only erect streetlamps in the alley faintly revealed the lonely atmosphere there.

Each time she returned to this street from the station, she was engulfed by some kind of distressing illusion, so much so that it was actually emotionally because of how depressing the place was. But after experiencing it all for a year, she had already gotten used to these kind of disorientating feelings.

On her peaceful way home, Anri began to think of the things Masaomi had said to her before they’d parted ways.

“Then again…Anri, you’d best be careful.”

“?”

“It’s about that bastard Nasujima~ Although most of those rumours are probably just rumours, it’s true he laid hands on a student.”

“…!”

Those words had been so sudden, Anri couldn’t help but inhale deeply. Masaomi wasn’t someone who would lie or joke about this sort of thing. It was something she had imagined happening before, but when it received a confirmation like this, she felt her chest tighten.

“She was a senpai from our school called Niekawa Haruna~ She transferred out of the school in the middle of the second school term. I heard it was because people found out she was dating Nasujima. But I’m not sure whether it was because it was to fulfill the school’s wishes, in order to prevent the matter from circulating, or because she was forced to by Nasujima, or if it was because senpai wanted to do it herself.”

“…”

If she’d transferred in the middle of the second term, then that would be about the time she’d become acquainted with Nasujima. When she thought of that, Anri began to feel that Masaomi’s words had some truth to them.

“Either way just be careful. If anything happens, me and Mikado’ll think of some way to help you out. Right? Mikado!”

Mikado had been looking around the whole time so when questioned by Masaomi, he’d blinked in surprise:

“…? I have no idea what you were talking about, but as long as it’s within my ability, I’ll help.”

“Chitsu chitsu chitsu, Mikado’s really dumb. At times like this, you should be saying “Even if it’s something I can’t do, I’ll harness the power of love!” That’s how a real man does it”

“Isn’t that a little ironical?”

“Hahaha, it doesn’t matter if we can or not, we can’t jump to conclusions without examining the situation first…let’s call this Schrödinger’s Mikado1. Hypothetically, if we shut you in a cage and release poison fumes into it on the pretence that we’re testing whether you can survive with the power of love, but actually with the intent to do away with you, thus allowing Anri to become my girlfriend. OK?”

On seeing that Masaomi had returned to normal, Anri smiled gently and nodded:

“Un…the two of you…thank you.”

As she strode on the lonely, dark road, Anri’s rearranged her feelings.

She liked Ryuugamine Mikado.

She was very clear about this.

But she also liked Kida Masaomi, and even now, she still liked Harima Mika.

—It was all the same. I like Ryuugamine-kun the way I like Kida-kun and Mika.

So she thought it probably wasn’t any romantic feelings, and merely the love for a friend.

Even if Mikado were to confess to her now, Anri probably wouldn’t be able to accept him. To her, it felt as if she was going to be two-timing him with Masaomi and she understood that she wouldn’t be able to put up with the stigma of such a terrible thing.

Perhaps it would be so much more easier if she were to love either Mikado or Masaomi.

But she still wasn’t sure about the differences between friendship and love. Even if she were to be able to specially love someone, it didn’t mean that she would be able to make good decisions from there.

She felt that if she were to make a decision immediately, she would ruin her friendship.

Till now, she was still unable to find where she belonged.

Then very naturally, she thought of the senpai that had been mentioned in their conversation just now.

Niekawa Haruna.

It ended with her transferring out of school, but what really happened?

—In the end, did that girl find it?

—The place where she belonged.

—Even if they were separated now—during the time they were together, had she haboured any feelings for Nasujima? Or perhaps, had it been because of some other things that had forced them into their state of affairs?

She couldn’t think of a good answer no matter how much she thought. Anri stopped in her tracks and sighed.

In that moment—she felt a light blow on her back, and she lost her balance and fell to the ground.

Since she wasn’t clear of what had happened, she turned her head, and in front of her stood some people she knew.

“Oh, she fell~ how pathetic.”

“It was just a light kick. What a retard.”

“She is a leech after all.”

Under the illumination of the streetlamps, the figures of three female students in their Raira Academy school blazers came into view.

The three-man group who was always making trouble for Anri. The ones Mikado had described as ‘the bad girl bullies from an old manga’.”

“…”

Anri silently raised her head to look at the three of them. Her face bore no sign of any fear or anger. Her eyes didn’t seem to bear any emotion, merely silently waiting for them to act.

The three of them weren’t very satisfied with this and stepped on Anri’s shoulder as she was about to get up, once again pressing her to the ground.

“What the hell? First Harima then Ryuugamine and Kida, and now you’re going to seduce Nasujima?”

“Just how many people do you want to sell your body to? You whore.”

“You can’t live without clinging to someone else huh?”

As Anri endured the vulgar abuse, the only thing she could do was quietly stare at them.

She knew exactly what they meant.

The fact that she was depending on Harima Mika. She wasn’t able to retort, and had no plans to do so. As for Mikado and Masaomi, perhaps that was what it was like to an outsider. The fact that she was looking for a place she belonged between them remained.

Although the part about Nasujima was a total misunderstanding, the girls before her would never understand no matter how she explained it. No, they wouldn’t care about that whether they understood or not.

As the verbal abuse was imposed upon her, Anri fell into a sort of trance where it was as if she had become the resident of some far-off planet, looking at what was happening from the faraway place where she was. This was perhaps her defence mechanism.

“ “ “ “Why are you spacing out like that?” ” ” ”

“ “ “ “Anyway your room’s nearby right? You’d better let us in!” ” ” ”

“ “ “ “From now onwards we have the right to search you.” ” ” ”

Anri was now looking at the world before her as something from behind a picture frame. The words of the girls all sounded as if they had were coming from a picture in a picture frame.

Before she’d gone to high school, Mika would always be standing in front of the picture frame, staring at the pictures and intimidating them so that they wouldn’t say a word.

But when the picture frame had appeared in spring, Mikado had jumped out of it and come to her side.

The incident that involved Nasujima the month before—it was nothing more than another ‘picture’ called Nasujima covering that of the bully girls.

But, this time there probably would be no one to help.

In a situation like this, it was better not retaliate because nothing good would ever come out of it.

—That’s right, nothing good will happen—

Just as she decided to give up on it, and allow things to take their course, the world in the picture frame suddenly changed.

The girls in the picture with the moving mouths.

Behind them, there seemed to be some sort of shadow skulking.

After seeing the shadow’s eyes, Anri ‘held her breath’ in confoundment.

—Huh? Eh?

Under the streetlamps, a human figure could be discerned. As it was standing behind the girls, she couldn’t see it’s face or clothing. But from the feel of things, it was probably male.

Then she saw its most conspicuous features—

The man’s thoroughly deep red eyes.

“ “ “ “Say something—” ” ” ” ”

One of the girl’s voices became muffled, and in Anri’s picture frame, a fan of black spread out.

At first it seemed like some kind of black liquid, but under the streetlamps it seemed to be tinged with red as it flew in all four directions.

A world dyed in fresh red.

Hearing screams of agony.

Hearing screams of agony.

The blood splatter on the grey asphalt, really did look like nothing more than black liquid.

Only in the moments as it danced in air, would one realize it was actually blood.

Hearing screams of agony.

Hearing screams of agony.

No one knew when it had started, but it echoed endlessly in Anri’s ears, and become a sound of reality.

The figure immediately vanished, leaving behind a screaming girl and her two petrified lackeys.

This scene that was so far from reality, had in fact pulled Anri back to it.

—Why? Why did this happen?

Anri who had been on the ground the whole time realized she was being strangely calm about the whole thing. She surveyed the scene before her with cold eyes. She wasn’t really at a total loss for what to do, she just didn’t know what she was supposed to do.

—What to do—What am I supposed to do?

Should she cry?

Should she scream?

Should she be angry?

Or perhaps to be frank, should she be laughing at them because they’d deserved it?

Who was she to the girl who had been slashed?

Her enemy? Her friend?

Someone with nothing to do with her? Someone she knew very well?

In a situation like this, Anri couldn’t decide—where she belonged.

Anri subconsciously got up from the muddy ground.

Fresh blood and agonized screams interwoven, the only thing Sonohara Anri could do—was stand still.

Chatroom

《Did you hear~? Tonight, the Slasher finally got around to attacking someone from Raira Academy!》

【Eh? Really?】

[How dangerous.]

《Of course it’s real—! I heard it was a first year female student!》

【I’m sorry, I need to make a call, so I’m just going to lurk here for a while.】

PM Mode 《Relax, it wasn’t your girlfriend.》

PM Mode 【Ah…thanks, but I’m still worried.】

[Hm~ Do you know where it happened?]

《Eh…it was around South Ikebukuro, near the Zoshigaya Station in Toden.》

《There’re still some police patrol cars gathered there, so I think it’ll be easy to find out more.》

[I see…ah, so sorry, I’m going off now.]

《No way—! Don’t tell me Setton-san wants to join in with all the excitement?》

[No, it’s not like that.]

[Anyway, see you~]

—Setton-san has left the chatroom—

《Ah~ honestly!》

【I’m sorry, but I think I’m getting off now too.】

《Eh~ you couldn’t get through?》

【That…she said something about being with the police now…I think she witnessed the incident or something…】

【I’m going over.】

《Really?!》

—Tanaka Taro-san has left the chatroom—

《If that’s the case, you won’t be able to meet her today.》

《Ah, he’s gone?》

《Then, I’ll go off as well~》

—Saika-san has entered the chatroom—

{Cut.}

《Hm?》

{Today.}

{I cut.}

《Ah~ you’re the spammer from yesterday! You can’t do this! Pun pun!》

{Want to cut.}

{Want to cut.}

{I cut.}

《Honestly. But, how did you find this web address?》

{Incorrect.}

{Wrong.}

{Weak, incorrect, unable, dominate.}

{Love, not enough, love.}

《You’ve spammed other boards that have to do with Ikebukuro haven’t you?》

{Want, love, humans.}

{I cut, but, incorrect, not enough.}

《Hey!》

《…You’ve been banned, tee hee☆》

《Now I can rest assured, see ya~》

—Kanra-san has left the chatroom—

—There is currently no one in the chatroom—

—There is currently no one in the chatroom—

—There is currently no one in the chatroom—

—There is currently no one in the chatroom—

—There is currently no one in the chatroom—

—There is currently no one in the chatroom—

—There is currently no one in the chatroom—

—Saika-san has entered the chatroom—

{More.}

{More, strong.}

{Desire, strong, love.}

{Desire, is, want.}

{Want, more, stronger, love.}

{Want, love.}

{Want, to love.}

{Want to love, strong, human.}

{Humans, strong, who, ask.}

{Want to ask, who, strong.}

{Ikebukuro.}

{Desire, my, mother, mother.}

{Mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother mother2—}

—Saika-san has left the chatroom—

—There is currently no one in the chatroom—

—There is currently no one in the chatroom—

—There is currently no one in the chatroom—

.

.

.

.

.

Translation notes: 1. Schrödinger’s Mikado: Actually a play on a thought experiment Schrödinger’s Cat which I dunno what the hella he’s on about. Go look it up noobz. Hoo.

2. Mother: In Japanese, mother is 母 pronounced ‘haha’ so it’s a sort of pun. Either “Hahahahaha…” or some “Mother” spammage.

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.